CHAPTER THREE

Maggie sat at her desk, holding a piece of paper in her hand. She had read it over and over, tears streaming down her face. She had gone through hell during the trial. She had gone up into the mountains, not wanting to be around the house and his presence there, on the day he would die. Now, to learn that it had all been a sham...She didn't know if she should be shouting with joy or outrage. Then she had to couple that with the news about Face. For the longest time, after reading those first sentences, she had simply stared at the wall, seeing the youngest team member the last time he'd been at Bad Rock. Laughing, vibrant, healthy.

Healthy.

Almost automatically she had finished reading the letter. Hannibal had serious doubts about the circumstances of the death. He wanted her to investigate. Find out what really happened. He didn't trust this man, General Stockwell. He had enclosed a copy of the death certificate.

She pulled the document from the envelope. Glancing at the cause of death, she decided it made sense, as far as it went. Drug reaction on aortic valve stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of the valve, which prevented it from opening properly. For someone Face's age, that would almost have to have been caused by a birth defect. Which is exactly what this Stockwell had told John. It would have been easy to miss, until the stenosis had progressed. Again, what Stockwell had told him. And the kind of drug they had used would definitely have put a strain on the heart.

But, and Maggie knew this was a huge 'but', for the drug to have actually caused death, Face's heart would have had to have been in bad shape. And that's where things fell apart. The stenosis could not possibly have been that advanced. If it were, Face would have been out of action long before they became involved with Stockwell. And the last time Maggie had seen Face, shortly before the arrest, he had been completely normal.

Hannibal was right. Face should not be dead, at least not for the reasons they had been given. The problem would be getting the actual autopsy report. If General Stockwell had gone to all this trouble to lie about the death, she just knew the report was going to be next to impossible to see.

That didn't mean she wasn't going to give it one hell of a try.


*****

Randy and Sam had made their way south rather easily. Sam had made quite a find the day before they were to leave - a dropped wallet, with several hundred dollars in it. Almost a miracle. Randy's first instinct was to turn it in, until Sam pointed out that if the owner were worried about money, he would have been more careful with his wallet. Obviously whoever had owned it was not in need of the money, whereas he and Randy were. Randy could see the logic in that. And it meant they could ride in style to their new home. Greyhound, all the way.

Sam had given Randy some of the money, and insisted he purchase the tickets. He could choose wherever he wanted to go, as long as it was warm. That put Randy in a panic. There were too many places to choose from. He stood for a long time in the bus station, looking at the schedule. The names of the cities were getting all jumbled in his head. He read the same page over and over, until finally Sam came to the rescue. He gently opened the schedule to Florida, and told Randy to put his finger on the page, anywhere. That's where they would go. If they didn't like it, they'd just go somewhere else. That suited Randy just fine. Leave it to Sam to know what to do.

Randy felt more confident when he walked up to the ticket desk. This was more to his liking, talking to people. He stepped up to the clerk, smiling that smile, making the clerk smile warmly back at him. It never seemed to matter that his clothes were worn or dirty, that he himself was less than hygienic. People would frown when they saw him coming, and then he would smile at them, such a genuine, warm smile, and they couldn't help but smile back.

Many times Sam had watched the man work his charm; Randy was not even aware that he was doing it. It was just natural to him. It wasn't innocence; no, Randy knew that he wanted to get something from the people he wove his magic on. But he didn't have to work it, like Sam did. Sam could charm the venom from a snake, but it didn't come naturally. It was something he had learned and honed over many years. Randy just did it.

He was doing it now, with the clerk. She practically fell over herself, explaining carefully where they would go first, what bus to transfer to, when they would arrive. Making a couple changes so they would be on the most direct route.

Sam smiled. It was times like this that his job didn't seem quite so difficult. Randy had a lot to learn and it wouldn't be easy, but he would be okay. Somehow Sam just knew it.


*****

Hannibal mailed the package to Maggie while on a job in Mexico. Stockwell hadn't known when they would get back into the city so it was easy to drop it at the post office. Now the hard part came. Waiting. Waiting for an opportunity to contact Maggie directly, find out if she had gotten it, find out if she had been able to do anything, find anything.

He had looked up this heart thing. Had done that almost immediately. It was plausible, he supposed, for Face to have had that particular problem. But it didn't sound like it could have gotten that bad, not without some sign.

He sighed deeply. Sometimes he wondered why he was doing this. He was jeopardizing their deal with Stockwell. Jeopardizing the pardons. Putting not only his future at risk, but BA and Frankie's futures as well. For what? As Murdock had said, it wouldn't change anything. Face was still...dead. Knowing what really killed him wouldn't change that fact.

So why go through all of this? Because he was stubborn, he supposed. Because he had to make sense of it. He'd lost men before, but he always knew the why and the how without any doubt. A bullet, a grenade, starvation in the camp - it was always cut and dried. He didn't like it, he grieved for them, but he could accept it. This was different. There was something out of kilter. He couldn't accept it as it was given to him. This was just...different. Damn it. This was Face...


*****

Maggie's first move was to contact the doctor listed on the death certificate. It had taken the man until the next day to return her call. Surprisingly, he was very helpful. Yes, he had done the autopsy himself. As expected, birth defect resulting in a bicuspid valve. Had taken years to deteriorate. The stenosis was quite advanced. No question about the cause of death. Yes, he would send the autopsy report, that day.

Maggie hesitated before making her next request. The doctor was surprised; it was unusual but he readily agreed.

Maggie hung up the phone, thoughtfully. She prayed she was right. But if she was, John was working for some kind of monster...